HC Deb 30 May 1892 vol 5 cc197-8
SIR JOHN COLOMB (, &c.) Tower Hamlets, Bow

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give any information as to the experiment recently made of sending out to the Pacific Station officers and men of the Royal Navy by means of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and particularly whether the transport was effected at any special rates, or under any special contract, with the Canadian Pacific Railway; how the cost of transport by this means compared with that of the method hitherto adopted; whether considerations other than pecuniary were in favour of this route as compared with others; what was the effect upon the discipline and organisation of the men; whether the experiment was undertaken at the request of the Canadian Government or of the Canadian Pacific Railway; and whether it is the intention of the Admiralty to make general use of this mode of transport in the future?


The experiment of sending officers and men to the Pacific Station by the Canadian Pacific Railway has been tried in two instances: the first, on the occasion of the relief of the crews of the "Champion" and "Pheasant," when seven officers and two hundred and forty-five men were brought from Vancouver to Halifax, and twenty-four officers and three hundred and twelve men were taken from Halifax to Vancouver; and in the second, when four officers and two hundred and two men were sent from Halifax to Vancouver. In each case special arrangements were made, both in regard to the trains and also as to the rates to be paid. It is difficult to draw an accurate comparison as to the cost of relieving men or manning ships on the Pacific Station by the adoption of the Canadian route as opposed to the Isthmus of Panama route. The expense of the latter route depends on the necessity or otherwise of sending a man-of-war to Panama to receive the men, when the coal expended by the vessel would become a part of the cost. There are only one or two ships in the Pacific command which can accommodate extra men; while arrangements can always be made for the reception of the men at Esquimalt, which, as a naval and refitting port, is the place most suitable for recommissioning ships on the Station. The Canadian route is much the quicker, and thus the men sent out are sooner available for duty. According to the Reports which have been received, the journey by rail across Canada had no appreciable effect in one way or the other upon the discipline or organisation of the men of the Royal Navy. The experiment was made at the instance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station, and was a success, the Railway Authorities taking great pains in looking after the comfort of officers and men. The use of the route will in future be considered by the Admiralty as one which has in certain conditions decided advantages over the other.